Washington parents can still choose not to vaccinate their children after a bill to remove personal belief exemptions missed Wednesday’s deadline to pass off of the state House floor.
Right now, the state is one of 20 allowing medical, religious and personal vaccine exemptions for school-age children. House Bill 2009 removes personal or philosophical beliefs as an acceptable reason to opt out.
The measure, sponsored by Everett Democrat Rep. June Robinson, passed out of a House committee, but didn’t receive a floor vote before Wednesday’s 5 p.m. deadline for legislation to pass out of its chamber of origin. That means the bill is unlikely to advance this session.
Washington is one of several states considering vaccine-related measures after a measles outbreak linked to Disneyland sickened more than 100 people throughout the country – including two from Washington.
“A personal belief exemption is sometimes an easy way for parents to not immunize their kids,” Robinson said last month when she called for more pressure on parents to vaccinate their children. “When a percentage of people are immunized, it protects the rest of the people in the community. It can’t transfer from one to the other because so many people are immunized against it.”
Critics argued that removing the exemption takes away personal freedoms. “Ultimately, that decision should be made by the parent and not the state government,” Rep. Joe Schmick, R-Colfax, said.
A bill in Oregon to remove religious and personal exemptions was abandoned Wednesday, Associated Press reports. Mississippi and West Virginia are the only states that don’t allow religious exemptions.